Computer game ads in Comic Books (80s-early 90s) Part 4

 Continued from Computer game ads in Comic Books (80s-early 90s) Part 3


Parker Brothers invested heavily in computer game advertisements in Marvel Comics in the early 80s. Kids today won't appreciate the classic character Popeye, but back in 1982 the spinach-crunching sailor still held a pretty strong appeal to just about everyone despite his slothful friend Wimpy and anorexic girlfriend Olive. The game was clearly structured after the original Donkey Kong arcade and handheld LCD games as well as its succeeding variants.


Popeye was available on Atari 2600/5200, Colecovision, Commodore 64 and Intellivision. I'm not sure how well it sold, but Parker Brothers released a second 1-page version of the advertisement.  I actually preferred the repetitive Popeye game over the original Super Mario Brothers. It was a lot of fun and is probably as addictive as the iOS and Android games kids play today on their tablets and smartphones.


As I mentioned previously, I've never been a gamer but I don't think I've ever heard of an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Video Game that actually became a hit. The 1983 ad for Treasure of Tarmin and Cloudy Mountain felt flat compared to other comparable ads that appeared on Fantastic Four or The Amazing Spider-Man. My older brother, who was a PC gamer, played the RPB Ultima series and The Lord of the Rings, but he never even touched a TSR video game.



Activision was well-known a few years back for releasing quite a few Spider-Man and Marvel-based games for different platforms. However, they also released some sports-based clunkers such as Decathlon  to take advantage of the 1984 Summer Olympics games.


Violent games were old hat even back in the early 80s, but unlike morally depraved games like Grand Theft Auto, games like NARC focused on fixing social ills rather than encouraging them. The NARC ad in 1988 tiptoes around the theme of anti-drugs - if you read the text description it mentions firearms and contraband but not illegal drug trafficking. However, the name of the game shows the stance of the developers.


There were dozens of computer advertisements published in DC and Marvel books from 1982 to the early 90s. Most of them were unknown games trying to influence comic book readers to purchase a game cartridge or disk. This Power Lords ad (1983) just came and went without so much as blip.


Warner Bros, with the help of popular game distributor Konami, did their best to leverage the brief popularity of Tiny Toons, a kiddie version of Bugs Bunny's wacky friends. Although I was never able to try the Super Nintendo Entertainment game Buster Busts Loose (1995), the NES Tiny Toons game was inventive, stimulating and a lot of fun.


As any real Spider-Man fan will tell you, the original Green Goblin from the 60s and 70s was a third-rate buffoon. He was never a credible villain to Spidey, but he was so colorful and unique the Green Goblin appeared in almost every incarnation of the wall-crawler. The 1982 Atari game was (sic) amazing and took advantage of the Atari's awesome joystick controller. The objective was pretty simple and involved climbing up a building and web-swinging while avoiding villains popping out of the windows and the Goblin's pumpkin bombs. There is a myth that Electro appears but he actually doesn't although some parts of the building had voltage running through them. The game, in many ways, was one of the best Spider-Man games ever released (they even didn't forget the hyphen in Spider-Man).   

Note: When I remember Spidey at the height of his popularity in the 80s, I'm saddened that Marvel is nothing more than a money machine now with no regard to the fans and publishes absolute garbage like Ultimate Spider-Bullshit and the current Spidey book written by that fat inept self-promoting slob.


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